British trade soars with Heathrow’s best cargo month in over 5 years

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Global British trade at Heathrow soared in March, with volumes surging nearly 13% to 148,000 metric tonnes – the largest monthly growth in over 5 years. As the UK’s largest port, Heathrow is a key enabler of British trade handling over 30% of non-EU exports and more cargo by value than all other UK airports combined.

Long-haul emerging markets remain a driver of cargo performance, with key markets in March including Mexico (+28%), Brazil (+13%), India (+9%) and China (+5%) as well as impressive growth to Indonesia (up over 9,000%) after Garuda Indonesia moved to Heathrow from Gatwick last year.

Flybe’s new services to Scotland proved popular with passengers as domestic traffic at Heathrow jumped 4.4% in March. The Flybe flights improve passenger choice on key Scottish routes and follow Heathrow’s reduction in domestic passenger charges by a third earlier this year.

Adjusting for different Easter timings, overall passenger volumes were up nearly 5% in March with a record 6.16m passengers travelling through the UK’s hub, driven by growth to East Asia (+8%), Latin America (+7%) and the Middle East (+6%) in addition to strong domestic volumes.

Fresh ComRes polling revealed an overwhelming 77% of MPs back Heathrow expansion, with Parliament convinced a third runway is the most critical infrastructure project to secure Britain’s future prosperity ahead of HS2 and Hinkley Point C.

China Southern confirmed it will double cargo capacity on one of Britain’s most strategic trading routes when it launches an additional service to Guangzhou in June, further boosting export opportunities for British business.

Heathrow clinched the ‘Best Airport in Western Europe’ award for an impressive third consecutive year at the prestigious annual Skytrax Awards, underscoring the airport’s commitment to delivering best-in-class passenger service.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said:

“Surging trade, more domestic connections and more long-haul growth are the bedrock of the UK’s economy. Today’s figures put Britain in a strong position as the Government begins Brexit negotiations and underline the unique role Heathrow plays as the nation’s global gateway.

“Our expansion plans will give Britain the tools to do even better. We’ll double our domestic connections and add up to 40 new long-haul trading links, making the UK the best connected country on earth. It’s a huge prize that only Heathrow delivers and we’re getting on with securing it for Britain.”

Traffic Summary

March 2017

Terminal Passengers
(000s) Month % Change Jan to
Mar 2017 % Change Apr 2016 to
Mar 2017 % Change

Heathrow 6,156 0.9 17,162 2.2 76,050 0.9

Air Transport Movements Month % Change Jan to
Mar 2017 % Change Apr 2016 to
Mar 2017 % Change

Heathrow 39,409 0.6 111,406 -0.8 472,295 -0.1

(Metric Tonnes) Month % Change Jan to
Mar 2017 % Change Apr 2016 to
Mar 2017 % Change

Heathrow 148,269 12.6 399,481 7.3 1,568,384 4.7

Market comparison
(000s) Month % Change Jan to
Mar 2017 % Change Apr 2016 to
Mar 2017 % Change

UK 397 4.4 1,069 1.3 4,662 -6.7
Europe 2,544 0.6 6,939 1.8 31,862 1.3
Africa 255 -5.0 773 -2.6 3,143 -3.3
North America 1,334 -2.1 3,562 -1.1 17,129 -1.4
Latin America 104 6.9 305 1.4 1,230 0.4
Middle East 605 5.7 1,804 13.1 7,170 10.3
Asia / Pacific 919 3.0 2,709 3.2 10,853 2.5

Total 6,156 0.9 17,162 2.2 76,050 0.9

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